Q & A

I HELP YOU MAKE LIFE AT SCHOOL MORE AWESOME
Wow, what kind of kids are these?
Yep. Amazing, aren’t they? There is truly a new species of kids on the planet. But in fact, they are ordinary kids who act on their feelings and do what needs doing, using the tools of today. This is what digital media, the internet and free softwares have been invented for. And we can help millions of kids to be and do like them. I hope that this vision motivates you to learn more and get involved in the quest of empowering the Change Generation. Without a doubt, it is our (only) key to creating a world of awesome for all!
What is Youth Leadership?
Youth Leadership originally means “training young people as agents of change in their communities.” It has been part of civic education in the USA and Canada for fifty years.

In today’s context of global learning, social media and escalating crisis, young changemakers pop up everywhere, responding with solutions to global problems, without “training”.

They change lives, laws and industries where adult organisations have failed for decades. They volunteer in record numbers, and have made “creating a good world for all” part of learning culture at 12,000 schools. Their events score six hours live on television. They have re-defined the image of youth and changed worldview to “it’s cool to care”.

These youth are not “anomalies”, nor part of a movement. They are a phenomenon appearing right on time to overcome the challenges of our era. Embodying the “able, active citizen” that our societies need, they are justly called heroInes, showered with awards, recognized as ultimate role models, and in high demand as speakers at schools. Their stories are in educational textbooks, and told as bedtime tales. Yay!

Today’s adult generations have for the better part shifted from minions of monarchy to citizens of democracies. Most societies have come a long way from deifying emperors, bur-ning witches in public, and having picknicks at the Colosseum watching people being chopped to pieces and eaten alive by lions. But that is not enough. Peace, prosperity, joy and sustainability are eroding, madness marches in the streets, and adult generations have no clue how to do better. They even make it worse.

Youth leadership signals the emergence of the “new species” – able, active, caring citizens who qualify as co-creators, inhabitants and stewards of a global, peaceful, just, thriving and sustainable civilization.

Note that they are not genetically altered androids. They are plain, natural, sovereign humans with a GOOD HEART. You have the same heart inside. And now, you have access to all that you need to evoke enormous changes. Upgrade and go!

What is the role of YOUTH-LEADER?

I have founded YOUTH-LEADER to serve multiple purposes.

  • To inform the world on teenage heroInes, youth leadership, youth-powered solutions
  • to equip adults from all walks of life to get involved
  • to support heroInes, and join their initiatives
  • to promote it to media and schools
  • to spark high impact student clubs
  • to rapidly implement proven solutions everywhere on Earth
  • in real-time collaboration with the Einsteins, Gandhis and Griffindores of today
  • to support inspired youth with the best that pro changemakers use
  • with benefits for their personal, idealist and professional paths

The fact that youth leaders can’t wait to see this happen, parents agree that this is needed at all schools, and that experts call YL “the epitome of youth leadership” indicates that I am on the right track.

How do you select the youth in YL stories and programs? - THE YL BENCHMARK

This book and its sibling books, games and calendars take a new approach.

The purpose of YL is to evoke grand changes for people and planet, fast, by taking proven solutions to planetary scale. Hence, all hero stories shall inspire, empower and equip readers to support powerful solutions, and implement them locally.

Stories on talkers, stories lacking images, lacking websites for follow-up, lacking access to support do not empower readers for action. Christmas cookie sales are great, but not enough to meet the challenges we face.

I select heroInes by a very special benchmark : a mix of

  1. a powerfully implemented model solution
  2. replicable by young people everywhere
  3. well visually documented online
  4. accessible via email or skype

This mix inspires, equips and empowers readers to turn into “users”, and to boost these high impact solutions at local and global level, using pertaining links and resources connected with associated programs and a global community working hard to empower the Change Generation.

 

How did you find them?
As in any niche sport or music, one’s passion connects with the pertaining community. I get to know young changemakers via newsletters from organizations, positive news media, awards and events. Since the year 2000, I have developed a neat address book and web of relations.
Have you met them all?
Have you met them all?
I have met almost all of them, face to face at events, via skype, social media, chats and email. Many have become friends and allies.
Did you invent this?

No. Youth Leadership has been part of civic education since before I was born. But I have something to contribute. I see the magic, the energies at work behind success stories. I see the vision what this can do for humanity, benefits for everyone to get involved, and I have the passion to communicate it.

Why are there so many girls?
Well, check the benchmark (how do you selct the youth?).

As a matter of fact, grand changemakers are dominantly girls. I explore this matter in The Hero’s Virtues. For now, make up your own mind. I am sure that you’ll have some ideas.

Why are there so many white kids?
Hum, actually there are youth from six continents. Their heritage includes Native American, Latino, Indian, Chinese, African, and (only two) Europeans. Ask yourself, how many high impact teen heroInes do you know from media? How many meet the benchmark? Also, I was excited to learn of some “black, inner city” teen activists via brief articles, but they have no facebook page, website or videos. Some did not respond when I contacted them for interviews and permission to use their photos. As a consequence, I have no memorable images, and there is no access to support. If you encounter such cases, maybe help create such resources for them. Also, please view the next question.
Why are there so many North Americans?
Once again, view the benchmark (how do you selct youth?)

Youth leadership – (training) young people as agents of change in their community – has been part of civic education in North America for fifty years. Youth activism is widely present in education, media and awards.

Whereas the rest of the world doesn’t even know of this “sport”, and only a few “fans” follow them online, U.S. American and Canadian youth are badass professionals. To save the planet, we better learn from the best. Think of the youth selected for this book as a planetary All-Star Team.

It is important to understand that high impact youth leadership is about an athlete’s SPIRIT. Not fan, not amateur. There is a unique alchemy in the North American spirit that usually comes with harmful side effects, but when used for “changing the world” it is gold. I explain more on this in Take Back The Planet. But since we are all becoming Americans now via media (aren’t we?), we should choose the finest spirit of “America”!

In Europe, youth leadership is practically unknown. Until today, care for people and planet was considered to be the job of institutions and organizations, not of purpose-driven individuals. Southern and eastern countries treat youth with a sense of distrust and control. France does not even permit student clubs. In Greece, teachers can only have guest speakers without permission from the ministry of education – because the country has only recently emerged from fascism, the population is politically polarized and youth are to be protected from adult ideologies. Okay.

Central and South America have a strong sense of civil society, but young changemakers get little media coverage. Machismo sabotages girl power. Corruption, violence, lack of rule of law sabotage sane acts and decisions.

Many or most African and Asian societies still practice outdated frontal teaching at school, are still coined by rigid hierarchies, totalitarian mindset, severe discipline, and do not believe in youth power. This oppresses youth, girls in particular. In several countries, youth have extremely few resources. There is little to no knowledge of young hero role models. All this makes youth leadership close to impossible.

We can change things, by

  • spreading youth leadership spirit to homes, schools and workplaces
  • featuring teenage changemakers in news media
  • cultivating changemaker student clubs at school

Then, this “new sport” will spread and generate athletes, like we have seen it in basketball, for example. In the 80s and 90s, youth around the globe got inspired by watching NBA games. Now, there exist passionate players everywhere, and some play at top NBA level. As the spirit of youth leadership spreads to people around the planet, youth will ascend to hero level every-where. And it won’t take twenty years! But we have to push this!

What is the role of parents?
I know these youth and their parents. In each case, the initiative was sparked by the child’s disruptive experience in the streets, in the field, on media, at school. You can tell these moments in the stories.

Their activities usually challenge their parents’ sense of protection, bringing up fears that their kids be traumatized by failure, trolling and bullying, school sanctions, media backlash, industry attacks, physical violence and murder. No joke. Then, there is the common disbelief in the power of one, a child’s determination, discipline, speaking skills … Craig’s story (and his first video) perfectly illustrates how the kid comes up with a crazy big idea, and parents do not get involved. This is common.

Alicia’s story shows how surprised mamas support in terms of logistics. In Avalon’s case, her parents give her space to pursue her passion, shuttle her around and act as chaperone. In another case, a dad has left his high-paid job for doing his kids’ organization’s office work. It is always the youth that are in the driver’s seat, and who embellish their family’s life with purpose and magic. This is true for all the youth in this book.

In fact, some well-known youth are not featured in YL programs, because I found out that their parents push them into the limelight, keep them from interacting with peers, even interfere with their activities … which is not “youth leadership” at all. So, yes, suboptimal adults exist, but they are few. It is difficult to fake or twist a child’s passion for doing good, and I hope that it stays this way. Ego does not succeed well in this field.

 

How do they balance their activism with school work?
Well, they are definitely busy, but, you know, other youth pursue their passion of playing sports, music, video games for four to eight hours per day. Likewise, natural born changemakers pursue their “sport” four to eight hours daily, and still find time to dance, kick balls, play the ukulele, do yoga and have an awesome time with their Griffindore friends. Really . Good . Friends.

Every kid that you see in this book does great in terms of academic achievements, be they home- or stateschooled. Those turning twens smoothly continue into their favorite fields of study or profession.

To good educators, their good academic performance does not come as a surprise. When our life is full of passion, dreams, creative expression, team and media work, positive feedback … our mind is agile, mental gymnastics come easy. Plus, their activities are a practical application of hard, soft and life skills. Further, student club action makes school days fun, makes good friends and teacher allies. That . Helps . A . Lot to perform well.

This is why UNESCO and ministries of education promote extra-curricular activities as integral part of the curriculum. YOUTH-LEADER has received multiple status as Official Project of the UNITED NATIONS Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and earned Pacemaker Status in Ashoka’s re:imagine learning Challenge. Schools are more ready than parents remember from their own time at school. So get involved!

These youth grow up as changemakers for five to ten years at school. Imagine their knowledge, skills, relations, experience at eye-level coope-ration with adults, their media presence, their CV by the time that they graduate from school. These badass cultural creatives need not worry about getting a “job”. Instead, they create their own path, and earn a living by doing what they like, perfectly aligned with their values and vision.

Isn’t that a neat vision for parents? Keep in mind that you cannot force it. Make heroIne role models available, and take some action, as an adult. If your child likes it, take action together! This book and its siblings help you do so in a million ways, backed by a global tribe.

What do these youth say about school?
Most of them attend public school. Few are homeschoolers. They are okay with school as long as there is time and space to learn what matters most for people and planet, like project-oriented learning and high impact student clubs. Many like STEM and creative stuff. Here’s how they put it.

Xiuhtezcatl, age 16 : “When someone tells me I should be at school, right now, then I know they don’t get what’s happening on the planet. The capacity of Earth to support human life is falling apart, and if things don’t change in the next five to ten years, then nothing will matter anymore.”

Adora Svitak, age 15: “The idea (of education) is not to turn us into your kind of adults. But into better adults than you have been.”
@BirdgirlUK : “Teens r starting 2 understand about what adults r doing 2 our planet. There’s a lot of anger in my geography lessons, as we do case studies from around the world. From Sept, my school won’t sell plastic water bottles & have put in more water fountains. This was student led/pushed.”

Madi, age 10 : „While we are the future, we have to start acting now, rather than waiting until it’s too late. If my generation is to face the great challenges we are about to inherit, service needs to be a bigger part of our education. It’s a challenge to get schools and larger institutions to step it up and make service and volunteerism a bigger priority. I wish there were more opportunities to support the next generation of compassionate leaders. As a youth-run organization, our ambitions are not always taken seriously. Our actions are often dismissed as symbolic gestures. But children and young people are capable of accomplishing enormous tangible good! We can have a profound impact on our local, national and global communities. Lemon-AID Warriors works to give young people tools and support to carry out these aspirations. But ideally, our schools and our entire society would also be on board.“

I love it. These four perfectly capture the motivation behind my work.

By the way – do you know THE OFFICIAL PURPOSE OF SCHOOLING? It is “to enable youth to be able citizens of a libertarian, democratic society, which today also has to be sustainable, in a peacefully collaborating family of nations.” We can now help our teachers to make it true. Are you joining?

 

What do you say about “role models”?
That’s a great question. We all know how inspirational heroInes are. We share their stories, invite them as speakers. But we should do MORE.

“80% of human nature is shaped by role models, much of it subconsciously.” That is great for wolf puppies who have perfect hero parents. But it is awful for inhabitants of an unsustainable society hurting on all ends and going over the waterfall. Where are true changemaker heroInes in your lives?

“Role models are our most important asset in life phases of Transformational Learning” – such as music, sports, parenthood or job change – and for “upgrading” to an able, active citizen, qualifying as co-creators, inhabi-tants and stewards of a peaceful, sustainable civilization, in short – a hero.

“Role models also function via media.” This explains the Paris Hilton epidemic, among others. I think that it is about time that we apply this knowledge, and give our youth the very best role models on Earth, using the most inspirational media available.

My mantra is : “Make heroIne role models omni-present at home, school, workplace, media and public space. And get actively involved. You are a medium. You are a role model.”

 

I want to be part. What can I do?
You legend! The YL website lists a wide range of quick and advanced actions from spreading the word online and locally to giving presentations, organizing exhibits, sponsoring media packs for schools and uniting inspired people for action. We also have volunteer writers, editors and translators … visit the Get Active section and start with your favorites.

Your optimal training is the YL Crash Course. It’s free and fun. It teaches you on youth leadership, tools and learning to how see and unlock local potentials. Then you can start with flying banners. Guaranteed!

 

Do you accept donations?
Oh, nice question. Yes! Visit the website. Also, check out the Boost! Club with exciting opportunities to support YL and heroInes, also in-kind. You can see your impact online, meet heroInes “live”, and act as a community.

 

What is that map you are using in YL?
It is Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion world map.

It shows the continents in their true proportions, whereas most maps in classrooms, newsrooms and on the internet grossly distort the Earth. Oups. Bucky made this map a free gift to the Earth. That’s groovy. Also, it looks like a dragon blowing fire and unveils that we all live on one Earth Island in one ocean.

Curious cats find more at global.youth-leader.org/maps